Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nanaimo Bars

Are they really BC's best known dessert? Who knows? I have to admit that before today, and before half the pan was eaten, I didn't particularly like Nanaimo bars. I guess I had only eaten mass-produced, previously-frozen varieties, and I couldn't understand the hype around them.
Today though, I finally understand the love. These are good. These are so good I have eaten half the pan and now feel a bit ill. Here's the wierd thing - I want more. I want another square. I will probably go to the refrigerator, cut one in half to eat right now, and then in 5 minutes, go back and sneak the other half.
I even cut some squares to take to our neighbour, who gave me the coconut to make these squares, but the cut Nanaimo bars haven't even made it off the counter - and I cut them hours ago. I am reluctant to part with them.
Make these this morning, and I promise you, there won't be any left for tomorrow. Oh my goodness, these are good.
Slight changes that I made were to use an 8"x 8" pan, which I sprayed with PAM and then lined with a foil sling. I don't like cutting in the pan as I don't like scratches inside the pan, but the perfectionist in me also likes perfectly cut squares, and I find it easier to do that if I remove the entire batch from the pan and cut the squares on a big board. I also added a little cream to the chocolate topping, the original is too hard to cut through nicely, and if you leave it to warm up slightly, the middle layer gets too soft and squishes out.
Whichever way you make them, always make them (it's a no-bake recipe too) and you will eat every last one of them!  

Nanaimo Bars
adapted only slightly from here at the Joy of Baking
makes one 8x8 pan (16-20 squares, depending on how you cut)

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs (I had crackers, so gave them a whiz in my food processor)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Middle Layer:
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons whipping cream (I ended up using 6 tablespoons to get a spreadable consistency)
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups icing sugar

Top Layer:
4oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Spray and 8x8 square pan with cooking spray and line with a foil sling.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, graham cracker crumbs, coconut and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer: With a hand mixer beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more cream. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, cream and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until chocolate has set. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.


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